Reports of an underground, grassroots effort to re-elect Democratic incumbent congressman for New York’s 14th District Joe Crowley surfaced yesterday. Crowley famously lost the Democratic nomination in June to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but remains on the ballot thanks to nominations from two minor parties. Crowley is not actively campaigning, but a movement has nevertheless sprung up to use his candidacy to defeat Ocasio-Cortez.
Gerson Borrero: “it’s more than just talk”
In his daily political gossip column, veteran journalist Gerson Borrero shared a mailer that had been sent to him via text message. He could not confirm just how active the effort to defeat Ocasio-Cortez is, but he could say “it looks like at least someone is campaigning for Rep. Joe Crowley — even if he is not.”
Borrero had reported rumors of an insurgent campaign to defeat Ocasio-Cortez two weeks ago, but quoted a political insider who dismissed the idea. Instead Crowley appears to be more focused on getting elected to local office.
This time things are slightly different. Borrero quoted a trusted but anonymous source who said there are activists working to turn out the vote for Crowley. “There’s a significant portion of the district that voted for Ocasio-Cortez that feel they made a mistake,” the source said.
Another source told him, “Republicans are going to vote for Crowley. The way they see it, Crowley is a person that they could talk to and work things out. With Ocasio-Cortez they can’t get past the socialist label.”
How can Crowley defeat Ocasio-Cortez?
Thanks to the quirks of New York’s fusion voting laws, Crowley was nominated by two minor parties before he failed to win the Democratic nomination in the primary.
Thanks to another quirk of New York law, Crowley can only be removed by disqualifying himself. Normally this is done by being nominated for another, unwanted office. Much to the ire of the Working Families Party, a minor party who wished it had instead nominated Ocasio-Cortez, Crowley refused to play ball.
Crowley stopped campaigning after losing the Democratic nomination, but thanks to his presence on the ballot lines of the WFP and the Women’s Equality Party, he can theoretically still defeat Ocasio-Cortez.
The chances of Crowley winning an election he is not actively contesting seem remote, but the danger still exists. Since winning the Democratic primary the media has largely assumed Ocasio-Cortez is running unopposed on November 6th, but it was just this sort of complacency from a front-runner that let her win the primary in the first place.
Another WFP mailer shocker
Another controversial mailer involving a Working Families Party candidate surfaced yesterday, this time in neighbouring Connecticut and featuring much more disturbing content.
Republican Ed Charamut, candidate for State Senate District 9, sent out a mailer featuring a highly controversial image of incumbent Matthew Lesser. The picture of Lesser bug-eyed, grinning, and clutching two fistfuls of money has been widely condemned as a blatant antisemitic trope. It has also been criticized for appearing just days after the most deadly domestic terror attack on American Jews in history.
Speaking to the Hartford Courant, Steve Ginsburg of the Anti-Defemation League of Connecticut said, “We do know … the feelings that the flyer is evoking — the juxtaposition of a Jewish candidate for office and money in this manner suggests an age-old anti-Semitic trope. We can’t and don’t know the [motive] of the producer of the flyer, but we do know its impact and they should clarify what they meant.”
Charamut denied any antisemitic intent. “Those wishing to portray a graphic illustration as something hateful are completely wrong,” Charamut wrote in a statement. “I reject hate speech in all its forms. The mailer draws a stark contrast between myself and Matt Lesser. Do you want to protect your wallets, or do you want to make Matt Lesser your new state Senator?”
Nominated by both the Democrats and the Connecticut Working Families Party, Lesser received support (and Charamut strong condemnation) in a statement from the WFP state director Lindsay Farrell.
“The Republican candidate’s anti-Semitic attack against Matt Lesser is not acceptable in mainstream Connecticut politics and harkens to propaganda reminiscent of some of the darkest moments in history.
“The Republican Party of today has been taken over by white nationalist extremists, despite the distance local candidates and party leaders claim to put between themselves and these national movements. Even in northeast Connecticut, Republican parties across the nation have fallen in line behind Trump’s racist and xenophobic agenda that seeks to divide us in as many ways as possible.
“At this moment in history, as our nation grieves a Trump-enabled hate crime that claimed 11 lives at a Pittsburgh synagogue, our collective response to this kind of hatred could not be more important: Local Republican leaders must condemn this attack, and any Super PACs supporting this anti-Semitic candidate must desist their support and funding. Anti-Semitism has no place in our politics today.”